After a disappointing loss to Virginia just two days ago, the Blue Devils needed to bounce back and show why they were deserving of their No. 1 ranking.
Despite a slow first half, Duke did exactly what it needed to do.
The Blue Devils concluded their three-week road trip with a 3-1 win Sunday against No. 15 James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., at the JMU Field Hockey Complex. Although neither team was able to find the back of the net through the first 35 minutes, Duke stepped its game up in the second half behind two goals from junior forward Rose Tynan.
“[The win] is important for the team and the whole program,” Blue Devil head coach Pam Bustin said. “James Madison is a great team and they're going to have a good season. It was a huge challenge to get off a disappointing loss—not just as a loss but in our own performance—to come back and get it all together, and we did.”
After squandering nine shots in the first period, Duke (4-1) returned to the field and immediately found another gear. Within the first four minutes of the half, senior Ainsley Gill broke the stalemate by capitalizing on a long pass from Tynan, putting Bustin’s team ahead by one. Less than a minute later, Tynan followed suit, working around the goalkeeper to sink a shot just to her left.
However, the Dukes (5-1) did not let the Blue Devils get away easily. Playing off a penalty corner, James Madison’s Miranda Rigg secured her sixth goal of the season in the 53rd minute off an assist from sophomore Florien Sondern to put the home team on the board.
But just as the Dukes looked to take back some momentum and even the score, Duke went back on the attack. Two minutes after James Madison's breakthrough, Tynan restored the Blue Devils’ two-goal lead by deflecting the ball off of senior Alexa Mackintire's stick for her fourth goal of the season.
“[Rose and Ainsley] are good players,” Bustin said. “It has been a process to get them back involved and get them the ball. Rose did a lot on the attack and the defensive end today to help create turnovers and scoring opportunities—she's really unselfish with the ball. And Ainsley is a hard forward to keep up with. She's very quick and she can be pretty crafty when she wants to be.”
Although the Dukes managed two more shots and put the Blue Devils in a tricky situation with two penalty corners in the final 10 minutes of the match, Duke’s experienced defense held strong. To date, the Blue Devils have only allowed five goals in five games, with four of them coming in the loss to the Cavaliers.
“It took us a little bit to get our rhythm and get our connection going,” Bustin said. “Coming out of Friday's match, we wanted to pick up our aggression and pick up our speed of play. It took us a little bit to trust that, but once we did, we started to get some positive results. It fueled us into halftime to say, 'Hey look, now that we've got it going, let's finish it when we have the opportunities.'"
With its road stretch in the rearview mirror, Duke will return to Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium in Durham for its next three matches. The Blue Devils will play their home opener Friday at 6 p.m. against No. 9 Louisville.
“We're happy to be home, first and foremost,” Bustin said. “It's definitely exciting opening up at Katz Stadium and playing a great opponent and a conference opponent in Louisville. We're just looking forward to another great game, and this time we get to play it at home.”